Aug 4, 2020
LinkedIn Learning course about LinkedIn Ads by AJ Wilcox: LinkedIn Advertising Course
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You've heard of agile development. But have you heard of Agile LinkedIn Ads management? Strap in, I'm gonna show you how it's done.
Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here's your host, AJ Wilcox.
Hey there LinkedIn Ads fanatics. So Episode 25 was all about the types of optimizations that you can make in your account to show improvement. But you've all been asking me how often you should be doing this optimization and how much data you need and how fast you can go. So I'm going to break down exactly how you can go and launch, test, and pivot with your LinkedIn Ads in a very agile way so you can move faster and conquer your competition. In the news, LinkedIn did a survey where they had just over 800 marketers across the globe kind of self report on how they'd been disrupted during the whole COVID situation and the results were quite interesting. About 10% of respondents said that their business had been totally disrupted. So this is a group who are trying to save their marketing budgets, and basically try to stay in business and not lay anyone off. Then about 70% responded that it was business, but unusual. So they're spending time on strategic planning. They've been mildly disrupted, and they're trying to figure out ways to get around and get through. But business is still going. And then you had 20%, who really said their business had been evolving. These were companies in a category that are really thriving right now. They're in a growing market. They're finding new customers, they're taking advantage of these new opportunities that the post COVID world is providing from those that I've spoken to I would say that these percentages are probably about accurate. In the survey results, they linked to a document that they call Driving ROI. And it's a set of best practice resources that LinkedIn compiled to help marketers. So I clicked on it, I read it, it was from 2019. And it is something that I'd read before but had kind of forgotten about. And I want to point out just some interesting findings here. And I've linked to this in the show notes down below. But it's called the long and short of ROI. As you consume this, you can just hear LinkedIn ranting, during the whole piece about the complaints that they hear so often from advertisers. They really come to three points here. Number one, marketers are measuring ROI too quickly. Number two, when they say they're measuring ROI, they're not really measuring ROI. And number three, internal pressures are causing marketers to move too fast and make actually poor decisions. And although it does sound like a bit of a rant, I totally understand where they're coming from. I'm sure they've had many advertisers quit where they say, you know what, we had to quit, we're just not seeing the return on our investment here. So this is LinkedIn reminding us if your sales cycle is six months long, quit complaining when you haven't seen ROI after four months of advertising. We talked about this in Episode 24, all about funnels. But LinkedIn is going to look really expensive if you're just tracking to the cost per lead. And if you're not measuring past that, if you're not measuring to cost per sales qualified lead, or cost per proposal, or cost per closed deal. Those are the points in your sales process where LinkedIn is gonna start looking really good. So if you're not tracking all the way to that, you probably won't have enough faith in the platform to give it a real shot, or even keep going. We're also planning a Q and A episode here in the next few episodes. This is our first of hopefully many. And I want to get our q&a questions from you. So any question you have about LinkedIn, I mean, we'll make it a total potpourri. Email them over to us at Podcast@B2Linked.com and we'll do our best to include it. I want to highlight a couple new reviews on our iTunes page Naira Perez, who is the founder of SpringHill Digital up in Portland. She is a LinkedIn Ads and a social ads expert. I've gotten to talk to you on many occasions. She's amazing. Okay, so her review says two words "amazing and useful". "AJ gives you actionable lessons. He doesn't keep secrets when it comes to optimizing ads on LinkedIn. He shares what has worked for him and what hasn't. If you run LinkedIn ads, listen to AJ, you will learn something in every episode, he is the gift that keeps on giving". Naira, thank you so much for the kind words, I'm so glad that you're getting a lot of use out of this. The next one comes from Mark Gustafson, who's the founder of 900Kings, and actually a close friend. He's actually the inspiration and my fact checker for episodes eight and nine, all about Facebook ads and Google ads. He's a fantastic paid search and social marketer. So Mark says "best B2B Advertising resource". "AJ is the best in the business. There isn't anyone else I turned to with B2B questions. He's easily the most knowledgeable about the LinkedIn ads platform. The podcast is pure value and perfect for the newest B2B marketer all the way to the most senior. Also, can we talk about that dreamy voice? I could listen to those dulcet tones for days." Mark, thanks for the kind words and thanks for turning a bright red behind the mic. I'm so glad this isn't a video podcast. And seriously, listen to my voice. There is nothing sweet about this. I'll rant for a second. I've got this crazy accent from growing up in both Utah and Arizona and learning Spanish in high school learning Russian after high school and before college. Basically, I don't even know how to describe my own accent. I sound real weird and I fully admit it. Okay, cool. Now I want to feature you so please do make sure you review on whatever podcast player you listen to this on. Leave a review. I'd love to shout you out on air. Thanks in advance for that. Okay, with that being said, let's hit it.
We're gonna talk about agile testing. So what is agile? Well, agile methodology is really started out in project management as a way for cross functional teams to get to move quickly and build collaboratively through continuous improvement. Now, you may have heard of development teams working in two weeks sprints, or doing daily stand up meetings. This all comes from the whole agile movement. We've adapted this to LinkedIn Ads management because it's a process that really requires continuous improvement, just like project management. So what is agile management of LinkedIn Ads? Well, to me, it's it's really making quick decisions on results from your LinkedIn Ads, so that you can learn more and test faster, find out what performs and then you can do more of that and have success for longer. So I'm going to share the agile process that we follow. And it all starts the moment we launch new ads. So when we launch new ads, we try to launch on either a Monday or a Tuesday whenever possible. And that's because those two days are the days where LinkedIn traffic is the strongest. We try to stay in the morning because morning tends to be the strongest traffic times for LinkedIn. We're always going to launch two ads, an AB test, where we are varying something so that we have something to compare against. Because if you just launch one ad, whether it performs well or whether it performs poorly, you don't know what caused that. But if you launch two at a time, you're giving yourself a better chance of having something that's going to be successful and getting to compare against what wasn't successful. Now if our Monday or a Tuesday happens to land on a holiday or the next few days our holiday we try to postpone either launched the week earlier or a week later. Again, when possible. Sometimes you've got a gun to your head and you just have to get ads launched. I'm sure you've listened to episode six because it was one of our most popular episodes. It's all about bidding and budgeting and it's the strategy we use to get the lowest cost from LinkedIn, no matter what your budget and what your performance. So if you've listened to that, you know that you're going to start with cost per click bidding. And you're going to bid really low to keep your risk low as you're testing. Right after your ads go live for the first day or day and a half, LinkedIn is testing your ads to try to figure out what the relevancy score is going to be. In order for them to test, they seem to give you pretty prime placement for your ads. And they're going to show quite a few impressions to your audience. And really, they're going to give you the benefit of the doubt in most situations. Regardless of how your bidding, chances are, they'll probably show you towards the top of the rankings. So you're probably getting impressions that are worth more than what you're paying, especially if you're bidding low. But once a day to a day and a half has passed. LinkedIn has shown your ad enough times they've given it enough impressions or given them enough impressions, that they can give you this relevancy score. And let's say it's a number between 0 and 10. Based off of that relevancy score, your next few days are going to become very evident how you're performing. So days two and three, we're watching to see what happens. LinkedIn has given you the relevancy score that they think you deserve. I think they make the decision a little bit quick, but so do all the other platforms. But you're really on your own now. And it could result in three possible outcomes here. So the first outcome is, you have a really high click through rate right out of the gate. And so LinkedIn gives you a great relevancy score, you immediately start spending everything you want to. And if you click performance chart inside of campaign manager, and look at these campaigns, by impressions, it will look like a couple of flat days where LinkedIn was giving you the benefit of the doubt. And then a spike upward when you actually outperformed their expectations. That's fantastic. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you could also come out of the gate with a low click through rate and a poor relevancy score. You'll know this happened when your impressions really fall off a cliff. So if you go to again, performance chart inside of campaign manager, and you look by the impressions by day, your first day, LinkedIn gave you a bunch of impressions. The second day, it was kind of halfway through where they decided you were a poor performer. And then by the third day, they just didn't deliver much. It looks like the downslope of a mountain. And the third potential outcome is really you did okay, you got an okay click through rate and a decent relevancy score. And things might continue the way that LinkedIn kind of predicted they were. So now we'll dive into what you can do, based off of which outcome you really landed in.
Outcome Number 1
So outcome number one, you did great, your ads are attractive enough to get traffic, but don't rest on your laurels yet it's not over. Once you get people to click, now you need to convert them. So assuming things are looking good to the click through rate, people actually care about your ads. Now you're going to go into data gaps. mode, let your ads run for the next $300 to $1,000 and get a feel for the conversion rate. If you're happy with your conversion rate and your cost per lead, just let it ride. Go back into data gathering mode, you're gonna hands off, leave it alone. So you can accumulate enough data to analyze, and use to optimize later. Go listen to Episode 15, if you haven't already, because it's all about benchmarks. And we go super deep into how you can tell what's working and what's not. So you can focus in the right area. And you want to make sure that you're watching this performance over time, because we have this thing happen in social advertising, especially called ad saturation, or audience fatigue. And what that is, is you are showing your same ads and offers to the same people over and over and on a pretty good performing ad, still only about 1% of people who see it will end up clicking on it. So that means 99% of people potentially see your ad and go, nah, I don't want to click on it. Even the people who might want to click on it, if it's the fourth, fifth, eighth time they've seen this exact ad, they're going to take a mental note of it, and then just skip it next time they become banner blind. And the way this will manifest itself in your account, if you go back into performance chart in campaign manager, and switch to looking by average click through rate, you can see over time that your click through rate is starting to drop. We found this period to be about 27 to 33 days on average, which is about a month. So what that tells us is if things are going pretty well, we might check on it two weeks from now three weeks from now and just see our our click through rates decreasing significantly. Does it feel like these ads have lost steam? Have they dropped in relevancy score leading to higher cost per click or lower delivery? And we know because the average is about a month. That means once a month, we're going to plan on refreshing our ad creative or testing a new offer, even even if it was a fantastically powerful high performing offer to begin with, because over time, anything will become a low performer, if you've saturated your audience hard enough, and that's mostly ad saturation, people getting sick of seeing the same ads. And you can relieve them of this by simply just changing the image. You may also want to change your ad copy in case they've already clicked or maybe even converted. But what's most important here is the ad needs to look different and stand out.
Now audience fatigue is something that's a little bit different. Let's say you've been advertising heavily for the last four or five years. Or maybe we'll simplify it, let's say for the last one year, you've been going heavy on an audience. You've been religiously changing your ad copy, keeping things fresh, trying new offers entirely, you may find that your performance decreases over time because the that audience has already heard of your company and is now starting to ignore anything from your company. This isn't a great place to be in because if you've been advertising heavily for years and years, chances are you are really relying on the leads that this platform pushes. But it could be a sign that you either need to really vary things up, or even try going on pause for a little bit, giving your audience a rest, and then see if they come back after a little while. So that's how I handle it. If you launch and the launch was very successful, your ads did great.
Outcome Number 2
But what if you had a failed launch? This is outcome number two, it means your ads really didn't land with your audience. There could be a lot of reasons for that. You might have done a poor job of actually defining who that audience was. Your ad might not have looked attractive enough for them to stop scrolling. And maybe most often, your ad copy didn't do a good job of pressing on a pain point, or calling out to them in a way that they cared about. But for whatever reason, your ads came out of the gate with a poor, click through rate and you've got a bad relevancy score. LinkedIn gave you a small sample of impressions for a day to a day and a half. And it means your ads didn't get enough clicks to qualify for a high relevancy score. So performance is likely going to be terrible. You can force it, you can specifically go in and bid higher or do automated bidding. But if you do this, you will pay way too much per click, and you will just be getting robbed by the platform. When ads come out of the gate performing poorly, sometimes it's really unfair. Sometimes LinkedIn unfairly awarded you a poor relevancy score because in the sample, they showed they didn't see enough clicks. And so they assumed you had a poor relevancy score. But you can resurrect this by just launching the same ads again. So if we launch on a Friday or a Saturday, and our ads just die, most of the time, what we'll try doing is just go and relaunch exactly the same ads on a Monday or a Tuesday, and just see. We're giving LinkedIn just one more chance with these ads to see if they unfairly awarded a poor relevancy score. If they fail for a second time, though, especially on a Monday or a Tuesday morning launch, then we know something's wrong with that ad creative. And we need to go back to the drawing board, or continue to suffer the most expensive cost per click you've ever seen from any channel. If you're having a hard time getting people to click on your ads or getting LinkedIn to even serve them. This point, you probably have not gotten enough traffic to find out how it's going to convert on your offer. Or maybe you did get a decent conversion rate. But since the clicks are costing so much, your cost per lead wouldn't be worthwhile in the end anyway. So at this point, things are going poorly and you should plan on just pausing these ads and relaunching an entirely new test. Episode 24 was all about funnels, so make sure you're paying attention to the right thing. If your click through rates are doing great, don't go and test new ads copy. And if your conversion rates are great, don't go and make major landing page changes. First start with the lowest hanging fruit, the parts of the account that are having the most trouble. If what you're trying isn't working, you can really try something radically different. And like I mentioned earlier, an AB test is going to give you a better chance of finding success with at least one of your variations. So try launching two ads where you vary the pain point you're pressing on. Or maybe you're touching on a different motivation. Or maybe you're even testing different calls to action or offers. You never know how something is going to perform until you test it. So don't be afraid to launch new ads and quickly retire them or pause them. If they're not living up to your standards. Then we have the third outcome, which is kind of like it's okay performance. There are certainly things you can do to try to increase performance. But if things are just going okay, I would say just like option number one where we had a success campaign go into data gathering mode. And then once you have enough data, evaluate to see if it's worth continuing or if there's something in the account that needs to be improved. Here's a quick sponsor break, and then we'll dive into maintaining an account once it's doing well.
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Alright, let's jump into continued maintenance. We talked about Ad saturation, how about once a month, your ads aren't going to be fresh anymore and you've got to change them up. So plan on doing that at least once per month. And follow the same agile testing steps that I mentioned before. Every new ad launch, you're going to take a look at it and say, okay, for the first three days, I'm going to watch and see, do these perform well? Are they getting a good click through rate? Are we getting a good cost per click? And then over the next week or two, you're saying, okay, is this leading to the conversions at the right costs that I want. You'll also want to keep your offers or your calls to action fresh, because you can change the image you can change the ad copy of your ads, a ton of times, but eventually people are going to catch on if you've been advertising exactly the same offer for the last six months. Every offer really has its own life. We've seen some that after a month that audience has just done and then we had one account where we had a winning offer that we couldn't dethrone for like seven months. No matter what other offers we threw at this audience, they kept preferring the one from seven months ago, and it was still converting even though it wasn't converting at the same rate that it was at the beginning, so we were trying to get it off its throne. So if you've been running an offer for about a month, chances are you can refresh your ad creative, use a new visual, and you can get that offer to live for another month, maybe even two. So watch that performance. Specifically watch your cost per lead, and your conversion rate as you go. As soon as you see that conversion rates start to slip, that's probably a great sign that you need to change up your call to action, give them a different kind of offer something that's new, that they will actually consider if they've already seen the other one several times and have decided, oh, I've already converted, or no, I'm not interested in that. And then keep that up, rotate through new ad creative and new offers as needed as your performance starts to decrease. And if you do this, congratulations, your lead generation machine is complete. To maintain it, what you need to do is Just keep feeding it new ads, new headlines, new intros, and new offers only when they're needed. And then this entire time you're gaining knowledge, you're learning about your audience along the way, you're finding out what they like and what they don't.
Here at B2Linked, we do a lot of ads troubleshooting. And so I thought it would be helpful to at least share with you how we think about finding pain points and what potential solutions are. So let's say your ads aren't performing well. That means either you're getting a high cost per click, or a low click through rate, or even both, they oftentimes go together. What you can do is try new ad copy, new imagery. If it's a video ad, try new video creative. And after two or three different tests of messaging, or visuals, if it's still not getting clicked, chances are the problem is your offer. You're probably asking people to do something that they are either unwilling to do and it scares them away, or they just don't see value in what about your conversion rates. Let's say you're not happy with how much you're paying per conversion, or your conversion rate is low. There are two things that we like to test here. And the first is evaluate your landing page. It's possible that your offer itself is really attractive, but maybe the way that your landing page is laid out, or the elements on it are getting in the way or distracting, and it's decreasing your conversion rate. One easy way to test if it's your landing page that's getting in the way, or the offer is you can test the same exact ad, but run it as a LinkedIn lead gen form. So you're asking people with the same form, but you're skipping the landing page, your website visit all together. Now lead gen forms, as I'm sure you know, tend to convert significantly higher. So we expect that when we do this test, the lead gen form is probably going to convert let's say 10 to 50% higher. But if it is significantly more than that, let's say conversion rate doubles or triples, that's my first clue that something on the landing page was getting in the way and you need to do some testing there. If it's not the landing page, though, it's likely the offer itself. Listen to Episode 10, where we go really deep into offers. And that'll give you some great ideas on how to try out new offers ideate, formulate, and create new offers. What if your ads and conversions are all going really well, but sales reports back that they're not closing these deals? Well, there's a lot of different things that are possibly out of your control here as a marketer, but maybe your sales team isn't nurturing right? Or, and this is a hard realization. You might not have the right product market fit, maybe your product or service that you're selling, maybe it doesn't solve a significant pain point enough that people want to buy. And no amount of snazzy marketing can fix that. Those are obviously much deeper problems, but see if you can isolate where they are and take off your marketer hat and put on your sales enablement hat and go and try to solve that problem, and that will earn you some significant quarterly bonuses.
Goal of agile management
The goal of agile management of LinkedIn is really threefold. Number one, you want confidence that what you're doing is working and will lead to business. And this is hard, because in B2B, we oftentimes have these long sales cycles. And it doesn't make sense to keep advertising for a year and a half if you don't know for sure that there's going to be some revenue that comes from that. You'll want to have stopped advertising much earlier. So as a marketer, you're looking for shorter term clues that the traffic will convert into profitable sales. Goal number two is you want to keep fresh with your audience so that they don't get sick of your ads, your offers, or even your company. If you can stay fresh, your performance won't decline significantly. And this is fantastic because social ads of any kind really are a moving target because the same thing that worked two months ago may totally fail today. And that's just because of ad saturation. So do your part to keep things looking fresh so that you never get stale to that audience. And then Goal number three here, you want to identify the problems and inefficiencies of your account so that you can fix them early and they don't turn into something terrible later on. Okay, I've got the episode resources for you coming up, so stick around.
Thank you for listening to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Hungry for more? AJ Wilcox, take it away.
I referenced quite a few other episodes in here. So check those out in the show notes if you haven't listened to them already. Episode 25 is all about optimization of your account, making it better when it's already doing well. Episode Six is on bidding and budgeting. Episode 10 is all about offers. And Episode 15 is all about benchmarking. To see where you stand if you're performing well, or if you're performing poorly. If you're new to LinkedIn ads, or if you have a colleague you're trying to train, check out the course, I actually did the LinkedIn Ads course on LinkedIn Learning. There's a link for that down below. But because it's LinkedIn Learning, it is insanely inexpensive, and it's a great training. It's the same thing that I charge $500 an hour for and would take me an hour and a half to train you and your team. And through LinkedIn, you can get it for 25 bucks. Or if you have a LinkedIn premium subscription, it's free. Take a look at your podcast player right now, especially if you're new, if this is your first episode. If so, congratulations. Welcome! And hit that subscribe button. We want to make sure you stick around and hear more awesome LinkedIn Ads strategies. Please do rate and review us on whatever podcast player you lean on. We're especially looking for stitcher right now. So if you happen to be a stitcher user, I would love it if you go and review us there because we only have one lonely one there. And of course, I'll shout you out for your review. As long as I know that it's you. So give me something good to say about you there. And like I mentioned at the beginning of the show, get your QA questions in, email us at Podcast@B2Linked.com. And actually, feel free to email us with ideas or topics you'd like to see us cover or questions, anything that you'd like. But especially I'm looking for good Q&A questions to cover or a whole Q&A episode. Hopefully, it's the first of many. So I'll see you back here next week, cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.